My sister is currently employed as a flight attendant with a Canadian-based airline company. I recently made a point of sitting with her and discussing what expectations are reasonable for both airline staff and passengers when it comes to allergies in the air.
On more than one occasion, passengers with food allergies have put my sister in an awkward position. For example, a parent informs her of her child’s allergies and attempts to take the meal that is being offered. My sister reiterates that she does not know whether or not the flight meals have come into contact with allergens as they are prepared by a different service on the ground. Here are some reasonable expectations that crew and airline staff have of those travelling with allergies:
1) Bring Your Own Food/Snacks- As much as we would like to be accommodated and included in the airline meal service, bringing your own food is always the safest bet.
2) Carry Your Medication- Some airlines may have their own epinephrine on the flight; but you should always be responsible and carry your auto-injector with you at all times.
3) Stock Up on Disinfectant- Wanting to wipe down the armrests, food trays and any other surfaces of the airline is totally reasonable. Despite the cleaning crews’ diligent work, germs are still present. Most airline staff are very understanding of this; however, most do not have any type of disinfectant wipes / sanitizer present. B.Y.O.S- Bring your own sanitizer.
4) Be Understanding and Polite- Most airline staff will do what they can to help you. It is important to be understanding of their limitations too! The more patient and polite you are to them, the more likely it is that they will provide you with amazing service.
As for airlines in general, most of their duties are regulated and the policies change from company to company. However, here are some things that I think would be reasonable to expect of airline staff when travelling.
1) Aware- I would appreciate it if staff had some form of familiarity with allergies. They don’t have to be an expert on the topic; but it would be nice if the staff were at least competent enough to assist a passenger allergies.
2) Announcement– I think it is a pretty reasonable request for airline staff to make an announcement informing passengers to refrain from eating your allergen. Although it is hard to expect that everyone on board will abide by the request; but it definitely helps raise awareness among the aircraft passengers and reduces the chances of you coming into contact with your allergens.
3) Understanding- Airline staff should understand where allergic-folk are coming from. No I’m not a flight risk. And I’m really not trying to be difficult! I am just trying to ensure that I’m safe in my sparingly small space at 40,000 feet in the air! Reassuring an allergic passenger is always a plus.
4) Offer- We know that you don’t have a restaurant on-board; but if the menu options are a ‘no-go’ for us, we do appreciate an offer for an alternative. Chances are, we have our own food packed. But it does mean a lot to hear airline staff make safe suggestions.
What have your experiences with Airlines and your allergies been like? Comment below!